By: Janalyn Voigt
Ever read a well-plotted book with engaging characters and exquisite execution that just couldn’t grab you? Something was missing that you couldn’t quite identify. This frustrating scenario happens for a number of reasons, not all of them in the author’s control. For our purposes here, we’ll focus on one common dialogue-writing mistake I’ve come across over and over again as a literary contest judge and that I’ve been guilty of myself: missing dialogue.
When we summarize through exposition rather than setting a scene that will engage the reader’s senses, dialogue goes missing. The effect is rather like a five-year-old calling from a playground swing: “Look at me!” While your loving eyes may make your child’s antics forever fresh, readers are probably less prejudiced about your story. They will endure only so much telling rather than showing.
You see, what every reader wants is not to watch and applaud, but to be in that swing.
Example of Missing Dialogue
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